Wilmslow 17-26 Alnwick RFC
After two very promising performances from the first two games of the season, Alnwick were still chasing their first points when they met Wilmslow on the third weekend of the league campaign.
Alnwick were looking for a fast start after an excellent last 15 minutes against Blaydon the previous week.
They didn’t disappoint, after an even first five minutes Alnwick were soon on top, and piling the pressure on the hosts. leading to early penalties being conceded by the home side.
It wasn’t long before the pressure told and Alnwick got themselves on the scoresheet, after a break from Young, who was outstanding round the park all day, Gothorp crashed over from close range after some neat handling from the Alnwick pack (0-5 to Alnwick).
It wasn’t long before Alnwick were again under the posts, this time J.Burn (who had come just come on the park to replace his injured brother) jinked past two defenders deep inside the opponents 22. He followed up with the conversion to make it 0-12 to Alnwick.
Unfortunately for Alnwick, the host were let back into the game just after the 30 minute mark, following some poor discipline at scrum time allowing Wilmslow to gain some much needed possession and territory.
Eventually, after some solid defence the pressure finally told and a third penalty in a row led to the host getting themselves on the scoreboard at 3-12.
The penalty gave the hosts some much needed confidence going into half time, and just before the break some sloppy play from Alnwick allowed Wilmslow back into the contest as a try was scored just before the whistle, reducing the deficit to 10-12.
The second half started in a very similar manner to the first, with neither side able to grab the upper hand. In fact the hosts arguably had the better of the opening exchanges, but stern Alnwick defence meant the score stayed the same until the 55th minute, when a break from Young down the left flank allowed Alnwick in behind the opposition for the first time in the half.
Some slick handling from the back line caused an overlap on the far side, allowing S Hutchinson to race over untouched from the 22m line. (10-19 to Alnwick).
After the score Alnwick began to control the game with Wilmslow offering very little in attack. However, more poor discipline allowed the home side back into the game, when they kicked a penalty into the Alnwick 22. From the resulting line-out the pressure was heaped on the away side.
As was becoming the trend of the day, the Alnwick defence came out on top again leading to a turnover on their line. Despite this, Wilmslow were still piling the pressure on but yet again some strong defence led by Cuthbert (who dominated in defence the whole game) forced a knock-on, which allowed Alnwick to break out after a smart pass into midfield from Hutchinson putting Mallaburn into space.
With just one defender to beat, he managed somehow to throw the ball 3m forward and the chance was blown. As the half progressed both side made multiple handling errors meaning the score was still 10-19.
Another error from the hosts allowed Pudzianowski to pick the ball up on his 22m line and charge upfield, eventually being brought down on the half way line.
The ball made its way out to Moralee who kicked ahead into acres of space. Gothorp was quickest to the ball and ran through unchallenged to take the score to 10-26, and all but end the game as a contest after 68 minutes.
However, as before, Alnwick allowed the hosts back into the game in the form of a harsh yellow for Mallaburn, allowing the host back into the Alnwick 22. Yet again the Wilmslow pack were denied by some outstanding defence from the visitors.
The pressure eventually told when Alnwick were down to 13 men due to an injury to Cuthbert, a fortunate kick through led to Wilmslow scoring untouched under the sticks for 17-26 with three minutes to go.
Even with the numbers advantage, the hosts failed to really trouble Alnwick in the final moments, and actually it was Alnwick who finished the stronger of the two, blowing a chance right on the final whistle.
Special mention must go to the two Alnwick second rows who spent the afternoon felling anything that moved and the back row who as usual were on fine form.
In general, this was an outstanding team defensive display and a well-deserved, difficult five points on the road for the Greensfield side.